Friendly Gestures…

Yeah.   This kind of thing happens to Alien Americans all the time.

Yeah. This kind of thing happens to Alien Americans all the time.

Today is Rosh Hashanah. For the past couple of years, I’ve done art that is more directly related to the actual idea of Rosh Hashanah. Today, I went in a different direction.

See…sure, the easy way to discuss the holiday is that it is one of the High Holy Days, the Jewish Calendar’s New Year. Being a Lunar Calendar, that date wanders around a bit…more than a bit, in fact. The whole point of the holiday is pretty much to review the year that has passed us by, and also to try and clean up your act for the next one. On the religious side, it’s pretty much a ten day period where the almighty decides whether you get to live another year, by reviewing three Cosmic Ledgers, and handing out different seals. Obviously, there is a a Seal of Life (the one you want) and a Seal of Death.

So…not really that upbeat a holiday. Obviously important, but not really a thing that is a “celebration.”

Jews have managed to bring it “down a few notches” for the non Jewish population, and possibly so that in our own culture it’s just not that morbid and depressing. Still, it creates all sorts of odd interactions. The most common is people e-mailing, or saying happily, “Happy New Year!”

Let’s be straight about this. I live in America, and use a real calendar. You say “Happy New Year” on my birthday, which is December 31st, and preferably, you say it once, at midnight. Part of assimilating into American culture was that simple point. I don’t resent giving me a day off for one of the Big Holy Days…but at the same time, it is awkward and weird when you try to adapt such a somber Holy Day into something jaunty and American.

Although, my own family (we are Reformed Jews, the most mainstream Jews possible) has also been e-mailing around happy family pictures, captioned with “Happy New Year” and such things. To be fair, we aren’t very good as Jews, but that seems surprisingly off message, even for us. The way you basically learn about it in Sunday School, or “shul”, is more like this e-card, which I encourage you to make use of:

"Shana tova" means "a good year", or "have a good year."

“Shana tova” means “a good year”, or “have a good year.”

It may seem pretty cavalier, but this really is the traditional mindset on the matter. There’s an underlying piece that suggests to us that if we don’t properly atone for our sins, then our lives are not, let’s say, “guaranteed” in the year to come. At least, that’s how it was always taught to me. This is a pretty @#$%ing intense idea, and it goes without saying that when I first learned about it in about first grade, I was downright terrified by the whole thing. I didn’t know how to repent properly, and I’m pretty sure I still don’t.

Obviously I’m still alive, despite my failed attempts (or total lack of) repentance, but I still struggle with this stuff a whole lot. I struggle because it’s supposed to be part of my cultural identity, but it doesn’t really carry a whole lot of real meaning for me. I don’t feel like I should “just go through the motions”, but at the same time, the traditions were really important to my family for a long long time.

Except according to my e-mail account, it seems like even my family seems “off message” with the traditions.

That’s why today’s bizarre art. A robot head should be something an Alien American likes, right? Sort of? That sort of well meaning effort has been the hallmark of my whole day off, people trying hard to make some kind of gesture, and trying to connect to my identity in a way that even I don’t. It’s nice…but its downright odd, and I have no real idea of the right way to interact with it. I generally react like our hero, with awkward politeness…recognizing the gesture for what it is…an attempt to be kind, and meet me “in the middle.”

Thankfully, it is a close friend’s birthday tonight, and those sorts of celebrations will be very rapidly taking over. Much, much easier to navigate.

For no good reason, I am including today's art without the speech balloons.

For no good reason, I am including today’s art without the speech balloons.

Eagle eyed readers from a long way back will recognize Cap’s big shoulder pad jacket as what she was wearing during a large amount of the “Edumentals” plot line, years ago. Back when the art was not all that consistent. Sometimes I like to look back, and see how far my practices have come.

In light of that, I went to one of my favorite pieces in the “Edumentals” period, and digitally recolored it, while “lightboxing” it to get that abstract Kandinsky style effect that I’m kind of fond of. I like the way this updated version came out…and if you look in the painting, that goes onward into itself for infinity, you’ll see our hero wearing the same jacket she is in today’s art.

Most of these cast members have moved on.

Most of these cast members have moved on.

Yep. The Edumentals, in the foreground, were defeated. The team in the painting with the protagonist moved on, some earlier than others. Horsey is the one constant, and it’s been a while since Horsey has been in Adequacy. I get the feeling that he’s uncomfortable with the Edu-Mountain as a setting. Seriously, I feel like he doesn’t like the setting, so he makes fewer appearances.

I hope you liked the new version of the old art. Perhaps that’s a big part of my “reflection” on the past. Maybe that’s all I’m bringing to the proverbial table, besides a nice wine for my friend’s birthday later.

Wherever you are, Gentle Reader…I hope that you have had a good day, and have a nice year, no matter which calendar measures it.

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